Saturday, March 14, 2009


My son comes home from school saying he got 82% on his French test. My first question: how did the rest of the class do? Its not the great grade itself, it’s how it compares with everyone else’s.

In the last couple of years, yup it’s taken that long, I have come to realize the tyranny of comparison. It was never just who I was, or even who I was in relation to my neighbours and friends – it was also who I was compared to that guy in the coffee line up. He had such great shoes, why didn’t I have great shoes?

Just because he has great shoes, does that mean I need great shoes? If he jumped off Lions Gate Bridge, does that mean I should jump off Lions Gate Bridge? … Why didn’t I listen to my mother, it could have saved me years of grief.

Pick the area and its open for comparison. Money, parenting, humility, abdominal muscles. There is always someone better, smarter, kinder, richer, or more disciplined.

I admit to having tried on many different personalities and roles. I certainly didn’t have Popeye’s fortitude “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam”. Oh, am I now comparing myself against a cartoon character?

When I find myself caught in the comparison loop, it’s usually because I am feeling insecure about who I am, or because I am dissatisfied with myself in that given situation. In my experience, neither of those are a good basis for sound decision making.

I do really like who I am, serious flaws and all. I don’t think I can shake the comparison thing altogether – its probably just part of who we are as humans. In fact it can be positive if I want to aspire to something and see others as a role model. However I think I’ll have to give up ever having the body of the new James Bond.

1 comment:

  1. Rory, your blogs really focus on traits we all share, so take comfort - you are not alone!

    Regarding the comparison habit, it is a normal part of establishing and maintaining identity. To continuously maintain the identity of the ego, the self must always "mirror" itself in others. Seeking authority, approval, agreement, cooperation from others, is the normal healthy way a person operates. I have been through enough management and performance evaluation processes during my career, to understand what these various methodologies were testing - you do not need to be a PHd in psychology!
    As you say, the important thing is to like who you are, flaws and all, and to use the comparison habit as a positive force - aspiring to something (goals and dreams) or someone (role models)